When you know what symptoms to anticipate in the case of a hot flash, you will be able to handle them better. Although (because of the name) you may believe it is simply an increase in body temperature, many other factors come into play as well.
Hot flashes come unexpectedly and can catch you off guard if you are not prepared. The warning signs are minimal, and a rush of symptoms like shallow breathing, excessive sweating, and rapid heartbeat can shake you up. Maintain your composure with the insight explored here.
During menopause, your sex hormone levels decrease. When estrogen, a main hormone, is reduced, an alert is sent out by the hypothalamus. This portion of the brain is responsible for many body responses, one of them being temperature regulation. As estrogen fluctuates erratically, your body becomes extremely hot. It is important to always wear layers, so that you can remove as needed. A tank top should be the bottom layer no matter the weather. Also, carry an ice pack and maintain cool temperatures in your home.
Your blood flow also increases during a hot flash. This is what gives it that surging feeling. Your face, neck, and chest can become red, and your heart will start pounding. This can make the feeling more intense and troubling. A good tip for this is the stay hydrated. When you do not drink enough water, you will feel hotter and more suffocated. In this case, your skin will be hot to the touch. Try to drink the equivalent of 8 - 10 cups of water a day.
As a response to the previous two symptoms, you may start to do quick chest breathing. Although you may think it is helping, it is not. Continuation can prevent your body from releasing carbon dioxide. This will result light headedness, dizziness, headaches, and in some cases, fainting.
About 15 minutes of slow deep breathing every day will prepare you for the worst. As an indication to know you are doing it right, your belly should be rising with your in-breath and lowering with your out-breath. The feeling is similar to a yawn.
Even if you do not consider yourself a sweaty person, hot flashes can make you perspire more than you ever have in your life. Although uncomfortable, this is your body's natural way of cooling off. It is a helpful function, but can make many women feel embarrassed. If you want to conceal this symptom, make sure to wear dark colored, loose layers. This will make it less obvious.
There four symptoms can be stressful, but they are much worse when they rush in without your having expected them. Like knowing when a guest will arrive, it is always better to be prepared. Although hot flashes can feel like an invader, you can arm yourself with effecting responses to overcome hot flash episode and find coolness.
- Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-basics/index.html
- Sood, R. et al. (2013). Paced breathing compared with usual breathing for hot Flashes. Menopause, 20(2), 179-184. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31826934b6